Hooked on a feeling (by Dana McMahan)

Bodyweight squat!

You know you’re hooked when you refuse to call in sick to a workout. I tossed and turned all night last night, trying to convince myself the body aches and stomach pain would be gone by morning. When I couldn’t eat dinner (and I can *always* eat) my husband tried to tell me it was ok to skip a workout. “But I deadlift tomorrow!” I replied stubbornly. No way was I going to miss it.

After my pull-up fail last weekend, I’d gone in for my next workout Tuesday determined to make some progress on another front. Ben must have had the same idea, because he told me I was squatting 95 pounds — ten more than I’d struggled through last time. If he tells me I can do it, I believe him. And I did it. Feeling slightly giddy, and reckless, I asked when he thought I could squat my body weight, an additional 17 pounds over what I’d just done. I loved his answer: “Now.”

I’d hoped that maybe I could do my 112 before Nov 13, when I leave for a trip to Thailand. This was way ahead of schedule. I couldn’t have been more thrilled. No build-up, no pre-work-out nerves like before trying my pull-up. Just a spur of the moment decision to do it. I took some deep breaths while Ben loaded exactly 112 pounds on the bar. I was feeling confident. Just one, that was all I had to do.

I went under the bar and got in on my shoulders. I nearly staggered. “I weigh this much?” I marveled out loud. (the bruise on my shoulder the nexy day showed me it was heavy.) Maneuvering to my position to begin the squat was even a bit scary. But I knew Ben was right there and wouldn’t let me do anything stupid or get hurt. “Take your time,” he said.

Down I went. So far so good. Following instructions I drove my knees out and fought my way back up. Partway up I stopped, stuck. Despite all the force I was putting into it, I wasn’t going anywhere. Then I broke free, and got up. I’d done it! I could have danced — this was huge for me! Ben does a great job of being equally happy for someone who squats some crazy weight that I could only dream of, and my relatively paltry 112 pounds, and he beamed as he slapped my hand. I felt like the king of the world. That’s the feeling I’m hooked on — trying something that I’m not sure if I’m strong enough to do, and finding that I can do it. If someone could bottle and sell the confidence that comes with that, they’d make millions. There’s nothing like it.

That’s why, sick and miserable as I was all night, and cold and dark as it was when I drug my puny-feeling self out of bed this morning, I was determined to make my work-out. I had a new goal to go for, a new challenge to overcome. I could rest later, right?

I wish I could say I manned up and dominated the workout, but not so much. Ben could see I was not in fighting form, and cut it short. But besides some good warm-up stretches, a few light squats and some (assisted, of course) pull-ups I did do what I came for — my first deadlift. Ben explained why I needn’t be nervous about hurting my back (a fear in the back of my mind). “You’d go over and pick up a 65-pound bag of feed without a thought,” he said, “and be more likely to hurt yourself.” A deadlift is a controlled activity. “Stop thinking about hurting your back and you won’t,” he said. Makes sense to me.

So I did it. And while I was focusing on bending knees, sticking my arse out and holding my chest up, for a few minutes I even managed to forget how bad I felt.

I can’t wait to try it again when I’m back on top.


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